California and Psychedelics: Getting Closer


Over the last few months, I’ve written a few posts about SB-519, a bill introduced by California State Senator Scott Wiener earlier this year that is intended to decriminalize a host of psychedelics – from psilocybin to ketamine to LSD (you can read those posts here, here, and here). SB-519 has passed through the California Senate and is now working its way through the Assembly before (hopefully) passing a floor vote and getting signed into law by Governor Newsom.

When SB-519 was first proposed, I was pretty skeptical that it would have any chance of success given the fact that over the last three years, the California legislature hasn’t even been able to pass a CBD bill despite numerous attempts. But SB-519’s passage through the Senate and some parts of the Assembly seems to indicate that the bill may have a chance at success.

If you haven’t read my prior posts, keep in mind that SB-519 is not a legalization bill but a decriminalization bill, and that may be why it caught any traction in the first place. Legalization is different from decriminalization in the sense that legalization generally leads to a regulated market, whereas decriminalization generally reduces or eliminates penalties and nothing more.

In other words, SB-519’s not going to lead to psychedelic dispensaries, but if people use or possess psilocybin, for example, that may remove a lot of the penalties. That said, keep in mind that California’s legislature is a lot more conservative than you’d think, and so there have been some changes made to the bill to restrict its breadth. Most recently, the bill was amended to add personal possession limits– people possessing more than the limits could still be subject to more serious penalties.

If SB-519 passes, it’s likely that there could be even more changes between now and signing.

As SB-519 winds its way through the legislature, Marijuana Moment recently reported that California activists filed a petition with the state to start the ballot measure process for a psilocybin legalization measure that would be slated for the 2022 elections. The initiative is called the California Psilocybin Initiative 2022 (CPI) and was submitted to the California Attorney General by Decriminalize California.

The CPI is extremely broad in scope, much broader than Oregon’s psilocybin legalization law and even broader than California’s cannabis law. It would allow unlimited possession amounts, use by any person over 21, cultivation on private property, etc.

The law would give very limited regulatory authority to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) but it makes clear that no licenses or taxes can be imposed on psilocybin except those assessed on normal non-psilocybin products. The law would allow businesses on land zoned for agricultural production and approved by CDFA to start producing psilocybin on January 1, 2023 and any business with a seller’s permit to start selling psilocybin products to persons 21 and up (this could include a huge number of businesses). There would also be labeling requirements that are not that different from (but still much more limited than) cannabis labeling requirements.

This is just a brief summary but as you can see, CPI goes way further than any sort of legalization bill I’ve ever seen for psilocybin or even cannabis. Unless it’s modified, I think this one has a pretty slim chance of success going forward. But we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, let’s keep our hopes up for SB-519.



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